Best Monument: Madre Luz

After her 2015 debut by activists near the Lee-Jackson Monument in Wyman Park Dell, Madre Luz, a 10-foot tall sculpture of a pregnant black woman with her fist raised in solidarity or protest (created by artist Pablo Machioli), was swiftly removed by the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and then brought back to the Copycat where her belly was vandalized with racist graffiti, spawning a series of talks among the artist-tenants about the art scene’s whiteness and the lack of safety for people of color. This past August, at the end of a Charlottesville solidarity protest, activists carried her out and placed her in front of the Lee-Jackson Monument again. Over the next few days, she was knocked down a few times—at one point activists bandaged and uprighted her to confront the Lee-Jackson. And then, once the Confederate monuments were removed by the city overnight, she was briefly, victoriously placed atop the Lee-Jackson’s empty platform—as if in testament to all that Madre Luz has inspired and weathered (symbolically and literally), which is far more than can be said of the Confederate bullshit monuments.

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